Journalism is no longer restricted to the "breaking news" varieties. According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, journalism is,"the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio."
“In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever.” – Oscar Wilde
A hot cup of coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other; a typical morning in almost every household! For people hungry for news, it is a must, to begin the day with fresh and latest information either in print or through the television. But who does the hard work behind the leaves of your morning paper? It’s the newshound, the wordsmith, the editor, and the team of professionals who kick-start your morning every day!
What is Journalism
Journalism refers to the news or feature stories (light, entertainment stories) that are expressed either in a descriptive way or concise pattern through different types of media. A journalist reports news, which can be through print, television, radio, or even the Internet. The main purpose of a journalist is to report news with accurate facts in an unbiased manner.
Over the decades, several types of journalism have developed that have given different dimensions to the field of mass media. One method of classification is on the basis of their specialization (beat), method of gathering information, and writing/reporting style.
The Different Categories of Journalism
On the Basis of Beats :-
This branch is growing at a fast pace in the past few years. With a handful of colleges offering this course and many industries demanding it, this could be a hot option in the near future! Most people are not fully aware of the prospects in this field and thus get deterred from taking it up. However, it has a wide array of options in multiple fields. Careers in the food and wine industry, environment welfare and conservation bodies, and resource organizations are some commonly pursued options.
This beat is for all the art lovers. The focus is on various forms of art that includes literature, film, dance, music, drama, and many more. Here, the journalist analyzes the developments and trends of the art world and reports it to the audience. People, who have passion for art always need regular inputs, which makes arts journalism, a fast-growing stream of the industry.
A business journalist has to cover business news from around the globe. This will include launch of new products in the market, mergers & acquisitions of companies, economic ups and downs, performance of companies, and so on. Well-researched analytical reports have to be made when it comes to business. These reports gather dates of all the important events on an international level; moreover, these reports have also exposed many business-related scandals.
As the name goes, this genre is related to the life of celebrities from all fields. This includes news regarding their personal as well as professional life. Reporting gossip is one of the angles, which the readers love to read. Interviewing celebrities from various fields, like music, sports, politics, arts, and films is also a part of this profession.
This branch of the industry makes use of the democratic right, i.e., freedom of speech. Here, the citizens are involved in gathering news wherein they speak out their problems and give opinions. This information is used by the journalists to create new stories and present it to the world.
Stories, news, and information specific to a certain town, vicinity, or area are sorted under this category. Though many people do not take community news seriously, it has its fair share of readership. In fact, community journalism is known to affect people in a much closer way than national or world news. Featured stories are more or less lighthearted and entertaining. Jokes, articles, and stories submitted by readers are also usually included in these subscriptions.
This beat has always been popular from a long time. People are always eager to know about crimes taking place, with all the possible and accurate details. Even though this is the most amusing beat for journalists, it needs extensive investigation and networking to get all the facts true. It consists of violence, revenge, greed, and major issues, like corruption, drugs, and so on. A crime reporter should always have good contacts so that no incident is missed.
This branch gives journalists a chance to explore the cultural part of the society. Culture has been an important medium for peace and understanding on international levels. This field is all about creating an awareness of one’s culture, background, and about the diverse groups in which one stays. The focus is on various types of festivals, history, languages, art, and so on.
This field is also known as online journalism. In simple words, this is a collaboration of most other forms of journalism — the only difference being the medium. Cyber and multimedia are two closely related fields; they aim at extending the reach of the information to a global level, while making the data appealing and engrossing.
As the term explains, this is all about what is happening with the country’s military forces. It includes the latest updates on various defense equipment that have been introduced by the Army, Navy, and the Air Force. Defense forces of a country play an important role in maintaining international relations, so journalists need to gather a lot of information on the same. These reports are also useful when there are violent situations. It makes the citizens aware of the basics of national defense.
This branch includes articles and reports on the developments taking place in the educational sector. The audience mostly consists of researchers, teachers, and students. These reports stand a lot more important for the policy makers. It focuses on spreading the importance of education among people so that more number of children will take the step towards higher education rather than those leading towards the factory doors.
Many journalists prefer writing about environmental issues, related to its protection and conservation. It is about the various changes in the environmental policies and events held by organizations for various causes. Multiple environmental crises can be communicated in a better way through this medium.
This field is for the people who have a stack of Cosmopolitan and Vogue under their pillow. Their main job is to keep a track of the latest trends in the fashion world. Interviewing models, designers and covering fashion shows are also a part of their work. Fashion is one of the hot subjects of the journalism industry, as one can work for magazines, websites, and fashion channels.
Financial journalism tops the list as the whole world revolves around numbers. It is related to all the facts and figures of the financial changes taking place. It will include up-to-date news of the stock markets, financial information of companies, changes in any financial rules and regulations of any country, and so on.
Writing about food can be someone’s passion. Moreover, people love to try new things, specially when it comes to food. Food writing is not only about different recipes or reviews of restaurants but it includes history and culture of various cuisines. This beat attracts a lot of scope as many newspapers and magazines focus on these articles. Roaming all over the world and trying all types of cuisines encourage a lot of “foody” journalists to select this beat.
The world is evolving and people are interested in reading more about lifestyle. This beat has been on a fast-track growth focusing on entertainment, music, leisure, shopping, home, gardening, and so on. Lifestyle journalists study the stages of development of lifestyle, economic influences on society, fashion, and trends. They provide readers with tips that can help in changing their lifestyle with time.
Health and science-related subjects fall under this category. It plays a crucial role in spreading awareness among professionals and general masses alike. Today, it is no longer restricted to lengthy journals and has spread to daily and monthly subscriptions, such as newspapers and magazines! Presented information needs to be accurate, thus rigorous and extensive research is a must for every assignment.
This is one beat that has been newly introduced in the subject of journalism. As a motoring journalist, your job involves writing descriptive articles about latest updates in the automobile field. If you are lucky, you might find yourself driving newly launched cars and bikes and scribbling down their reviews! There is a lot of scope here as many newspapers and magazines keep a section for these articles. So if you are obsessed with bikes and cars, then this is the field of choice for you.
This branch has evolved recently and is intended to make the information more interesting, interactive, and appealing. Mostly on the web, it primarily uses different images, videos, and other forms of media to enhance the content. The idea is to make the information easily understandable, while increasing the overall appeal of the page. An added advantage here is, a large amount of content can be conveyed easily with the help of tables, links, or a simple slide show.
This type is undoubtedly the widest and most well-known, where news journalists are required to compile and report information with necessary facts and details. The key aspect here is to ensure that the information is concise and direct while keeping the content intact. This is one of the most influential means of reaching out to people. Thus, it is important that the story is reported in an unbiased and objective manner.
This branch covers subjects pertaining to political science. One needs to carefully study and observe political figures, bodies, campaigns, events, and report the same in an impartial fashion. Again, being objective is essential as political journalism is known to be instrumental in effecting many a change. Though this is one of the most interactive and interesting fields, political journalists are often criticized for being highly opinionated.
As a science journalist, your goal is to report science-related information to a layman. This requires basic understanding of the subject with a good level of writing skills. Journalists need to ensure that the information is broken down into simple words without compromising on its precision. Writers in this field mostly work on science journals, subscriptions, and informative features. The numbers seem to be declining in the recent years, and today this branch has only a few takers.
Sports journalism includes covering a sports event, sportsperson, or an entire series. As a sports journalist, one enjoys several added advantages. Not only do you have your own set of audience who follow the sport, but you also get to be physically present at most of these events! For those interested in broadcasting and media, and are passionate about sports, this could be a great alternative.
This branch reports on different trade markets and analyzes the changes and developments. The focus is on the commodity market as well as the financial market. A trade journalist needs to have a good understanding about the economical cycles that affect the business and trade of the world.
With a chance to roam all around the globe, this is truly a great career alternative! One must truly enjoy traveling, and have a passion for experiencing different cultures to excel in this field. Here, one is required to compile information regarding a particular destination. This includes detailed description of the place, its tourist attractions, accommodation facilities, eateries, and other similar details.
Mostly telecast via the radio or television, this branch pertains to road accidents and traffic conditions. Though a very small sect, it is helpful in avoiding traffic problems by redirecting people to alternative routes. However, with latest technological developments, traffic journalists are declining by the day.
Video Game Journalism
With more and more people getting hooked to video games every day, this stream is fresh and buzzing! It primarily comprises reviews and comparisons between upcoming games, their sequels and of course, the gaming consoles. To be a video game journalist, genuine interest and passion for gaming are the main skills required. The reviews need to be highly descriptive and detailed. Hence mostly, gamers with writing skills go on to become video game journalists.
There are plenty of platforms to begin with; you could be a freelancer or employed on a part-time basis. Some exceptionally skilled journalists go on to develop their own site!
As the name suggests, war journalists are required to cover an ongoing war. Though they are not required on an everyday basis, it is undoubtedly a dangerous profession. There are two types of war journalists; those assigned with a military unit to gather information, and others, who cover the same independently. In the former type, one is more likely to hear a one-sided story. In the latter, information is usually presented indifferently as a third person.
This self-explanatory and a widely-known category, not taken seriously by most people and is usually sidetracked. However, this small section is immensely helpful and vastly relied upon, even today! Here, how you present the information is secondary; the key factor is to be short and precise.
On the Basis of News Gathering Methods :-
This is one of the techniques followed by journalists to collect news. It is actually a military tactic used to make a surprise attack in the same way as it is used to confront people so as to get answers. We come across this method more often on television, in a news show, or interviews where answers on sensitive topics are pulled out from people, who generally avoid speaking to journalists.
This class primarily aims at collaborating bits of information on the basis of evidence to draw substantial conclusions. Investigative journalism also plays a key role here. Analytical journalists are tasked with probing into simple chunks of news with mere theories. These journalists invest a lot of effort to bring many commonly missed points by shedding light on them.
This is a type of journalism where the people make their contribution to the news. They can share facts, give suggestions or opinions. Even after the news has been published, it is open for people to add their comments and suggestions. This method is mostly used by journalists for sensitive issues so that the citizen gets a chance to speak and another news can made with that information. People can also bring to notice issues that may have been missed by media houses.
This is a method which is used in the journalism industry where many news organizations and individual journalists come together and contribute their work to a news story. A lot of centers have been helping the amateur as well as professional journalists to come together and work on a news story together. This has been followed since the time Internet usage became vast. So, a single collaborative news story will have the hard work of many authors combined with different perspectives.
Gathering news with the use of a small, unnamed aerial device known as drones for collection of photos, videos and news is called drone journalism. This method has emerged with a lot of buzz in the industry. Various drone labs have been set up which allow the use of these devices. This method is used to get a better coverage of wars, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, and so on. The use of drones is made legal in the U.S. and one is allowed to fly the same till 400 feet as of today.
This is an interview technique used by journalists to get comments on the topics, which are not answered. This tactic can be used when some wrongdoing has to be exposed. It can be used in many ways depending on what outcome is expected. Gotcha technique has created a lot of buzz in the industry as it is a challenging way to gather information.
This type of journalism is about unearthing facts and studying cases that may require more efforts, which can take months, or even years. Journalists, who specialize in investigative journalism create headlines with news that expose scandals. Sometimes, persistent follow-up of a story proves beneficial to uncover some hitherto unsolved cases. This would require in-depth research from the journalist along with evidence.
This method is about going to hot-spots around the world and gathering news from those places. It includes jumping to places to cover the breaking news. A parachute journalist collects information from a fresh perspective. Even though he lacks the necessary networking, he is tasked with collecting all the inside details from scratch. Many a time, these journalists have to land in countries that speak different languages and work with tight deadlines, which makes this profile a challenging one.
This method is quite related to the citizen kind. In this, the audience is given an opportunity to participate, and it acts as a platform for discussion and debates. It also helps communities, who share the same interest to come together and share their views. It stands as a transparent medium and encourages corrections and additions.
This method is a need that has arisen for the fast-paced society. Journalists have to present all the information in a manner that grabs the reader’s attention. Various research methods and techniques are applied to collect information. Statistical programs are used to analyze records, which help the journalists to effectively create a presentation. It aims to be objective with a scientific approach and strives for the truth.
On the Basis of Writing Styles :-
In this branch, one expresses his personal opinion on the particular subject, instead of reporting from a third person’s point of view. This form has shaped out of the ideology that unless you are passionate about the topic and express your thoughts freely, you can never convey the same well! Though journalism as a profession usually demands one to be objective, this method is being highly adopted today.
Under this branch, journalists are openly biased towards a particular entity while reporting events or happenings. The information they convey is mostly one-sided and tends to defend the specific entity. Most advocacy journalists believe that in their profession, one is very likely to become partial. As a constant follower of any story, it is difficult to stay detached. You eventually will develop an opinion! So, instead of trying to be indifferent, one might as well report his point of view.
This is an upcoming and highly interesting branch of print media. Here, comics are used to depict real life instances from recent news articles. This is highly effective as it helps in publicizing serious issues with a touch of humor. These comics are catchy and engrossing, thus conveying important information in a desirable manner. This style is used in newspapers, monthly subscriptions, and several websites.
In fact in the recent few years, many universities are offering courses for comic strip design! It makes for an interesting and unique career option for those who are creative and good at sketching.
In database journalism, the information is usually in the form of collected data, such as statics, comparative figures etc. The journalist is free to use different forms of data representation to make the information easily understandable. This includes use of tables, flowcharts, links, maps, and other similar means.
Feature Story Journalism
The primary difference between a story and news is the time frame. Any fresh information is said to be news, whereas known facts and information are said to be featured articles or stories. Mostly, these include detailed information about a widely known topic; such as the character sketch of a particular person — usually a public figure, or informative articles, reviews etc.
Unlike all other types, in this kind, the journalist is expected to express a good measure of personal opinion. This style of expression in journalism was brought about by Hunter S. Thompson. He believed that a person reporting a piece of news or information is expected to contribute his thoughts on the same; to the point that the journalist is expected to be straightforward and blunt, even if that implied giving a rather harsh opinion!
Inverted Pyramid Style
This style is mostly followed for news reports and articles, wherein the flow of the article is maintained as per the importance of the information. First, the most important information is revealed; mostly the description — a gist of the news. Other key information that supports your story will follow next; this mostly includes answers pertaining to your description, such as why, how, when, and where.
So at this point, the information that the reader is looking for is stated. Now, one can continue with the extra details, perhaps a link to a similar story. Recently, most writers have started following this format as the article is short and precise.
A picture says a thousand words. Keeping this in mind, photojournalism is a small but important part of almost every field of journalism. Here, journalists use pictures to depict an event, story, or occurrence. In some cases, photojournalism is inevitable — like news articles — as the pictures help the reader or viewer get a clear idea of the exact scenario. Wildlife, war, and travel journalism are just a few examples of such cases.
This type is a hit with some unreliable newspapers and websites even today! In this style, the journalist tries to sensationalize a particular piece of news by molding the story itself. Also famous by the name ‘yellow journalism’, such form of news is highly exaggerated and mostly unreliable. A good example of this is when celebrity controversies are hyped and publicized on a big scale to grab eyeballs.